poetry


we fell in love the way other people fall down stairs:
a rough-and-tumble blackening out
in the shudder of a misstep, landing askew
with my hair a tangled mess as though from fitful dreams
and your limbs all wrong,
jagged angles jabbing deeply
where we should have just
fit.

do you really think it’s supposed to be
this hard?
my mother asked me,
her words like pebbles in my shoes
that i just couldn’t shake out
because really, i just wasn’t thinking at all
with you around.

i finally walked away after my screams flew
ragged as a murder, black wings against a dusking sky
your eyes darkening as you lied
and couldn’t stop,
a rockslide of black diamonds
i’d no longer collect.
“goodbye” just seems so utterly unfair
when there’s no good in the way you let me down
and let me go.

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The day your mother died
we sat like young ghosts in Old Bennington Cemetery
to catch the sky as it fell,
gray flakes of ash and slate
souring our Summer skin and bruising our faces.
She would not lie here,
preferring winds above an open valley
and one last flight with paper wings,
but you could not think of anywhere else to go
where death didn’t feel like a cheap brass lantern
in a hall of brilliant chandeliers

so we packed up her only God
& a bottle of expensive wine –
one for absolution,
the other to eschew all sensible solutions
to such a stifling grief –
and you fluttered pages in a ragged Book
as if grappling blindly at the coattails of a swift guide
through a foreign land of fog and silence
as I fumbled with our paper cups,
so foolishly out of place against a granite sky

and we saw it then,
how love was just a glimmering gem
in the hand of a restless child,
tossed wide across a sea of sorrow
in a brazen flick of a nimble wrist.

when i finally tied his letters up that summer
& lost them in my parents’ attic,
i garnered the shards of my post-modern romanticism
and decided to move West.
this was my 20-something time
to eschew all modicums of sensibility
and start a riot in my quiet life,
party of one:
a renaissance of the heart,
a final leap through hoops of flames
where my thin skin would thicken as the ashes settled
and i’d never look back to where he stood,
a pillar of salt marking the door to my Past.

in December i quietly dried my eyes
and counted out the states to set between us,
a breadcrumb trail of rivers and towns
he’d never ask to trace.
i gave no warning,
my final good-byes flung from the driver’s-side window
at every state border
as i left him behind.

i loved him, of course
the way you always love the one who keeps you down
like a stone upon your paper wings
or a certain song you wish you could forget
but can no longer fall asleep without.
i loved him without regret —
until i regretted everything.

tick, tock.
given enough time and
the right person’s smile,
everyone of us will dream 
of a runaway cliche.

when it rains in Manhattan i remember you,
the spoked edges of your practiced poise & charm
springing up like a tattered umbrella
above my girlish (in)sensibilities
and for a moment, i shiverache to hold you close —
before the torrent of my memory streams forth
to stain your once-waterproof facade
like red wine on fine cashmere.

come December, i won’t think of you again.

so please steer clear of Bleecker Street
and the cafe where you locked my gaze
through a watery pane on an April morning,
for i’ve no room for new visions of you
pressed like lingering footprints when my world goes white.

truth be told,
i prefer to save my Winter blues
for safer things
and leave you in my shades of gray.

it’s raining in New York and i am
drinking coffee all alone
in a cafe full of strangers,
telling myself stories about their lives
by their choices in umbrellas

and i think i will remember this in years to come:
how i missed you in such a cold September
when just your smile in this city of millions
could make me more than one.

we turn at Delancey just as the sky splits wide
& i’m suddenly sure there’s never been another quiet boy
quite as ill-equipped as you
to chase down a streaking sunset on these mercury streets
at the side of a girl who knows nothing but wings

i showed up with new wings
balancing like a dancer in your doorway
& you said nothing, just a frown
and turned to pour us wine.
well, at least we’ll always have that.

you with your dark eyes, so reluctant to coddle belief —
you, who sees thorns on even forget-me-nots
saying “i ruin everything i touch, so stay away”
but i knew the real truth —

how your green thumb scares you so,
leaves you beating back the cherry blossoms
that pour like early love through your bedroom window
at just a sideswept glance from you across the room.

but these are your four walls so i’ll play by the rules
& we won’t speak of things like quiet spaces
or what happens after all our everafters run their course

so i i roll my best words beneath my tongue like prized marbles
(oh how i’d shoot to win, but you’ll never play for keeps)
as you climb back inside your head and pull the shade
at the mere mention of a pearl, a feathered shudder,
a groundless fall through the loose seams of the sky

& so i sit on your floor with my flight dreams
and eat peanut butter straight from the jar
as you stare past me out the open window
and pray for rain.

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